A Civilized Discourse about Architecture
Standing facing them was the Crown Prince of Calendia.
Golden-haired and tall, wearing a luxurious light armor dominated by orange and yellow. On his back was a white cape with the symbol of Calendia upon it, fastened to his neck by a golden aiguillette. The very image of a Prince in fairytales. Sadly, it was ruined by the fake smile he wore.
“It gladdens me to see you well, Maiden of Water.”
“I…wiiill…thank you…for your…concern. However…” Allenca began, not affected by the man’s respectful gesture. She waved her staff towards the 6 men in gleaming silver and white armor. They wore no helmet and she saw that all of them were good looking. “The Church…is…a plaaace…of worship. Iiit…iiis not…the battlefield. I…aaask…that…they leave.”
“Please forgive me. These are my private guards. They insisted on accompanying me even though I told them no,” the Prince answered. “Especially because there are a lot of people going in and out of the Capital, as I am sure you know.”
“…” Allenca did not answer. She merely shifted her staff to her right, gripping it hard.
“And the believers?” the Maiden of Water asked, glancing at both Goldstein and the Prince.
“Well…umm,” Goldstein began to sweat as he did not know how to answer.
“Pardon my rudeness for keeping the commoners out of the Church. It is a simple precaution. I hope you understand,” said the man who was kneeling alongside Mikael.
The man was young with a squarely set jaw and wild brown hair. From his clothes one could see that he had riches in his family. And yet unlike a noble his hands were heavily callused. When he stood up, one could see on his belt a rapier with richly decorated finger guard.
Sensing the awkwardness in the air, Henrietta tried to break it.
"G-good afternoon, Prince Mikael. I am happy that you are well."
“Ah, Lady Henrietta. It has been too long. My cousin misses you,” The wild looking young man said.
“…” Henrietta did not immediately answer and glanced at Connie, who seemed to be interested in Prince Mikael, worried that she might have lingering feelings for this man who annulled their engagement. “And this dashing young man is…?”
“Ah, where is my manner. This is Lionel Gadwell, a newly minted Captain of my private guards. He happens to be Serin’s distant cousin. A very talented young man.”
“We met only once when we were little, but I am glad you are well.”
“Oh,” Henrietta blushed at the man’s confident smile. “Y-yes. I too am glad.”
Then, Lionels noticed that the person standing near her was looking at the Prince, sizing him up.
“I understand that seeing the Prince is a rare privilege, but you are being rude, Sir…,” Lionel said, his eyes glaring at the person in the strange robe.
Connie raised an eyebrow, looked at the Church people’s faces, then pointed at herself. “Are you speaking to me?”
“Yes! Who else?”
“Well, I could not help but be curious, you see. After all, seeing a Prince out in the wild is as rare as seeing a cat out in the rain.”
“How dare you equate the Prince to a cat!” The wild-haired young man scolded her.
“Whoever said that the Prince is a cat? Clearly, he is a human. Unless you think that he is?” Connie laughed, earning her a look of anger from the wild-haired young man. “It’s a figure of speech, Sir Lionel. Why so uppity?”
“I cannot let your insult be, state your name!”
The Church suddenly fell silent and the atmosphere became tense.
The Cardinal Deacons looked at Allenca, who looked at Connie. They then stared at the Prince as if he was asking whether the sky is blue.
“Err, if you please, Prince Mikael…do you not recognize this person?” Goldstein asked carefully.
“Even if it’s just a joke, I feel for the Lady,” Babblebrook added, amused.
“Prince…yooou are…too much,” The Maiden shook her head, which also shook her bountiful bosom.
Henrietta did not know how to react to his remark and simply shook her head helplessly. Looking at her expression she understood that her friend had no feelings for the Prince, yet what is she doing?
“W-what are you all looking at me for? Answer me!” the Prince’s eyes widened in agitation. The 6 Knights did not react to the Prince’s outburst as they were used to it.
“Understandable. We have only met for less times than could be counted in one hand, I too could not place you from my memory if it wasn’t for Allenca calling you Prince,” Connie said calmly, unperturbed by the Prince’s childish tantrum. She then bowed slightly using a masculine gesture.
“I am Cornelia Asterium Steelheart, Daughter of Duke Geno Steelheart. Your ex-fiancee.”
The two youth in front of them could not help but be confused. The last time they met, Cornelia was an awkward young girl without any redeeming features but her good looks. A foolish girl who tried to grasp more than what she could achieve.
But here she stood. No longer the pitiful little thing that she was, but arrogant and intimidating.
“Hah! The engagement had been annulled. No matter what you do, my heart already belongs to Lady Serin!” The Prince said with a look of pride.
“As you should, Prince. But like I said, I was simply curious at how the Prince look right now. But after I get a look at you…you are just…eeh,” Connie waved her right hand about vaguely. “Oh, you are handsome, I’ll give you that. But you are like soup without bread. Like clay painted gold. You are good looking…but there is no substance. Not to mention that you are not as good looking as me.”
“Subjectively and objectively, I think I am much more handsome than you,” Connie shrugged. “What do you think, everyone?”
Allenca could not help but giggle while Henrietta was biting her lips trying to hide her amusement. This Connie was too much. How could she say such outrageously narcissistic things without batting an eye?
She noticed the twitching on the Prince’s eyebrow. “Ooh, I don’t even need to hear the answer. That expression of yours is already answer enough.”
“You dare mock me? I am the Prince!”
“And that is why you surround yourself with these private yes-men?”
Prince Mikael was so furious at this answer that he shouted in rage. “Catch her! I want her to kneel and ask me for forgiveness!”
The Knights hesitated. Although they were Knights, none of their families were higher than a Duke. To go against the Nobility Hirearchy was a grave thing. Sensing their apprehension, Lionel quickly whispered to the Prince, who nodded and added to his order. “I will handle the repercussions! Take her!”
The Knights quickly encircled Connie. Seeing this, Allenca was about to use magic to stop them.
“Maiden! Stop!” Babblebrook reminded her while gritting his teeth. “We must endure. It is not time yet.”
Though Allenca was frustrated, The Church could not openly be hostile towards the Royal Family. The Church could be stand-offish with the Nobles, but without the Royal Family, there would be no Hero. And without a Hero, there would be no Calendia.
Connie too did not expect her to help. After all, she was simply using her.
“Connie!” Henrietta cried out as he looked at the Prince for leniency. “Prince! Please, stop this!! She’ll ask for your forgiveness!”
“Then she shouldn’t have offended me!”
“Oh, 6 strong men against one weak little girl? I am soo scared,” Connie hugged herself with a resigned look.
“It’s too late for regrets!!” The Prince shouted.
As the 2 Knights behind her were about to take her arm, her arms moved in such a way that they slipped from their clutches. It felt they felt like trying to hold onto an eel.
“I am curious, you are learned men, correct?” She swayed back and forth as they tried to grab her, but she dodged their attempts easily.
“Then, let us have a little lecture on architectures.” Connie put both arms around their necks and said. “First, I’d like you to appreciate the tiled floors up close.”
She yanked their collars back before slamming their faces hard onto the marble, breaking their teeth and nose with a sickening crunch. Smearing the floor with blood.
“Look at that! Not a dent! That’s quality marble!” she said appreciatively. Of course, she was holding back, otherwise it would not just be their teeth and nose that broke.
“And these wooden benches? So old, they might as well be rock. Imagine the things that they could tell us,” Connie said while evading a punch and tripped the Knight, making him fall against the side of the bench. When he did, the blonde girl rammed her knee at the side of his face, knocking his head against the side of the bench.
“Can you hear the history they are speaking to you?” She asked while mockingly asking the bloodied knight. “Oh, if only the wood could speak!”
“RAAARGH!” The rest of the knights threw themselves at Connie, trying to catch her.
One activated his skill in fury. “Strengthen!!”
“And how about the ceiling fresco?” Connie asked as she dodged the oncoming bearhug boosted by the skill and swiped the back of the attacker’s leg with a swift kick, making him fall on his back. The armor and his weight made him fall with a loud THUD.
“Even a Knight should take some time to lay back and fully appreciate its beauty.”
Connie hit the man’s throat with her knuckle, causing him to clutch at his throat while gasping for breath.
She stood up and gestured with both her arms wide towards the Prince and the surviving Knights. A slight bow, a mocking smile. “Would the rest of you also like a quick lesson on architecture? I’m always happy to share my knowledge.”
Prince Mikael seethed. She made short work of the Prince’s private guards and she did it while performing such inane theatrics. The girl did not even have proper armor. If this leaked out, they would be laughing stocks.
“Mikael. This girl’s power is above the Knights!” Agitated by the situation, Lionel reverted to calling his childhood friend with just his name. He had heard the stories about the talentless fiancée of his. Was this even talentless?!
“Impossible! My guards are the best of the best! How could a girl playing at being a Hunter be at their level?!”
“Their level? Oh, please, Prince. I am just a weak, pitiful little girl who doesn’t know how to swing a sword. How can I be stronger than these Knights currently appreciating the beauty of the Church?”
“How Shameless!” The Prince shouted in anger as he tried to draw his sword.
Lionel noticed the hotheaded Prince’s move and quickly stopped him before he managed to draw it.
But the 2 Knights that were still standing were enraged by the humiliation and drew their swords. At this, Gadwell felt his stomach falling to the pit of his navel. He did not expect it to go this far.
The Prince’s Guards were chosen from the top of the Academy. Loyal and hot blooded, but at the same time, they were young and prideful. To be defeated by an unarmed girl with such ease was both humiliating and degrading. Normally Lionel would not even mind them drawing their swords on those who went against them, but they did it inside the Church. They could not avoid punishment now.
Connie smirked and formed both hands into spear forms, ready to introduce the 2 fools to the wonders of having to drink soup through straw.
However, at that moment, a blue barrier expanded from Connie’s location and knocked the knights’ swords away. And at the same time, Allenca said. “The two of you. Sleep.”
At once the two Knights fell onto the floor and were fast asleep.
“Eeeh. What a waste,” Connie commented as she relaxed.
“Prince Mikael,” Allenca called out. With the swords that had been drawn, she now had enough cause to stop the Prince. “Please leave the Church. Iii…will send…aaa…formal letter of complaint about…you and your entourage…tooo the King.”
At these words of Allenca’s, The Prince felt like cold water had been poured over his head. He realized that he was blinded by temper and became too impulsive.
“Aaalso…I will rethiiink…of my blessings…for your marriage.”
Hearing this, the Prince’s eyes opened wide. If his marriage was not blessed by the Maiden of Water many would think his joining with Serin be thought as unblessed by Junnaveil. As a future King, he could not have that.
“Maiden! Please rethink this!” He implored.
“You should have thought about it when you let your people drew their swords in the Church and in the presence of our Goddess,” Babblebrook said. Though he was unhappy with Connie’s presence, having this disrespect against Junnaveil as a new card in their bag was a very good thing.
Before the Prince could say anything more, Lionel said loudly. “We will come and explain ourselves in a later date.”
“Very…weeell. Yoooou…know the door.”
Lionel helped the bewildered Prince to walk and ordered the Knights who had started to recover to help their brothers.
“The Orders have really gone downhill!” Connie said as he went past her.
“We will answer this disgrace soon,” Lionel said with spite in his voice.
“Oh? I hope it’d be one on one then. I’d like to see how good you are with that fireplace poker.”
Hearing his prized Rapier, the Frost Song being called a lowly poker, the youth grunted. Yet he did not do anything else and just turned his face forward and followed his Prince.
Prince Mikael, who was still stricken by the Maiden’s ultimatum, did not react to anything and walked silently.
“Connie…that was awesome!” Henrietta cried out when she saw the Prince and his people were gone. She had never seen her in action. But now? Even she could see that the Prince’s private guards were the crème de la crème.
“You are not disturbed by the blood?” Connie asked.
“Well, as long as it’s not too gory I’m fine. I’ve learned a bit or two during my travels.”
Allenca stepped towards her and expressed her sincere apology. “Iii…am sorry…I could not heeelp much.”
“Don’t sweat it. They are nothing compared to what I faced this week.”
While they were chatting lightly, Illumca and Martell entered the church. Connie then bid farewell to the people of the Church and headed out. Henrietta also bid hers, leaving the people of the Church to be alone.
After they left, Allenca and Babblebrook glared daggers at Goldstein, who could not hide his fear.
“Cardinal Deacon Goldstein,” Allenca uttered the name as if spitting them out in disgust.
Allenca struck his chest with her staff. Her voice cold and commanding. “Weee…will…allow you too…retire…peacefully.”
“N-no, wait. Your Highness! I can explain!” The fat old man tried to beg, but Babblebrook kicked him. Despite his lack of exercise, the kick managed to send him sprawling to the door.
“A rotteeen…branch…must be…trimmed, else the tree…will follow.”